What it’s like to run a business in Georgia right now

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The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, as seen from Google Street View in 2017.

Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp decided last week to allow several businesses to reopen, such as barbershops and fitness centers. This week, restaurants, theaters and private social clubs will also be allowed to welcome customers. 

Source of the Week is spotlighting local business owners of color who will have to choose to either start up business again or stay shut, as deaths caused by COVID-19 in the state continue to increase.

Ryan Wilson (CEO) and TK Petersen (COO) are co-founders of The Gathering Spot, a membership-only club that provides workspaces and networking opportunities in Atlanta. The club has hosted events with brands such as Spotfiy, Coca-Cola, Google and Netflix. The co-founders were college roommates. After graduating, they realized there weren’t a lot of local spaces where they could connect with new people. The pair raised $3 million to launch the Atlanta-based business in 2016.

Ryan Wilson is an Atlanta native. He was named the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2017 Small Business Person of the Year. He was featured on The Root magazine’s 2018 “Root 100” and Ebony magazine’s “Power 100,” which feature influential African Americans in a variety of fields. He’s a graduate of Georgetown University and Georgetown University Law Center. 

TK Petersen manages the club’s operations. He graduated from Georgetown University and previously worked in the financial sector. The pair have been featured in Fast Company’s story on black tech entrepreneurs, and interviewed in USA Today and Bloomberg Businessweek on the growing number of black entrepreneurs in Atlanta.

Contact information: 

Email: rwilson@thegatheringspot.club and tpetersen@thegatheringspot.club

Phone: 678-232-7076

Listen to Ryan Wilson speak on the Atlanta Small Business Show.

Chrisopher Escobar is the owner of The Plaza Theatre, which he says is the oldest movie theater in Atlanta, and one of the only independent theaters in the area. The Plaza was shut down because of COVID-19 on March 19, the longest closure in the theater’s history. Escobar said the theater stayed open through World War I, 9/11 and the AIDS epidemic. 

Escobar is a first-generation American. He is the first minority executive director of the Atlanta Film Society and produces the annual Academy Award-qualifying Atlanta Film Festival. He has been named a “40 under 40” and “CFO of the Year” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, among other recognitions. He graduated from Georgia State University with an M.A. in Moving Image Studies with a concentration in production. 

Listen to Chris Escobar on Hybrid Atlanta. 

Contact information: 

Email: chris@atlantafilmfestival.com

Phone: 678-698-9048 (c)

Mother and daughter pair Ellen and Lana Ector founded Gymnetics Fitness, a private fitness studio in Atlanta. They offer personalized nutritional advice, weight loss programs and workout regimes. During the shutdown, they have been offering live daily workouts on Instagram and streaming fitness videos on their website portal. 

Contact information:

Email: info@gymneticsfitness.com

Phone: 678-468-7968

Listen to the Ectors on Fox 5 Atlanta

Last updated: April 27, 2020